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Malekzadeh Arrested for 'Financial Corruption'; 6 More Join Hunger Strike

24 Jun 2011 01:30Comments

Press Roundup provides a selected summary of news from the Farsi and Arabic press and excerpts where the source is in English. Tehran Bureau has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy. Please refer to the Media Guide to help put the stories in perspective. You can follow breaking news stories on our Twitter feed.

Iran Daylight Time (IRDT), GMT+4:30

Mohammad Sharif Malekzadeh under arrest. The six Rajaei Shahr hunger strikers -- (top row:) Heshmatollah Tabarzadi, Isa Saharkhiz, Keyvan Samimi; (bottom row:) Ali Ajami, Masoud Bastani, Jafar Eghdami.

1:30 a.m., 3 Tir/June 24 Our columnist Muhammad Sahimi compiled the following news items and commentary:

Two days after resigning from his post as deputy foreign minister for financial and administrative affairs, Mohammad Sharif Malekzadeh was arrested, Fars, the news agency run by the intelligence unit of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, reported. Subsequently, Esmail Kosari, deputy head of the Majles Commission on National Security and Foreign Policy, said that he was detained on several charges of financial corruption. Malekzadeh has rejected all the charges against him. The judiciary has said that it will soon issue a statement explaining the reason for his arrest.

Hardline websites opposed to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are having a field day after Malekzadeh's arrest. Mashregh News, closely aligned with the security forces, reported extensively on the arrest and the previous positions that Malekzadeh has held. Raja News, published by Fatemeh Rajabi -- who once referred to Ahmadinejad as the "third millennium miracle" but has become his ardent foe -- claimed that Malekzadeh was appointed to the ministerial post to prevent his arrest, but that the members of the "perverted group" -- Ahmadinejad chief of staff and confidant Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei and his associates -- erred in their "calculations." Hardline cleric Mehdi Taeb said that Mashaei has always pursued the president's downfall, but Ahmadinejad still considers him to be pious and honest. "We should be prepared for larger seditions," Taeb added.

Aftab News, the website that is close to Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, wondered in an editorial about how the president will react to the latest in a string of arrests of his allies. It asked, "Will Ahmadinejad stay home again to protest the arrests, or will he ask the Supreme Leader to order the release of his close aides? If he chooses the first option, it will have terrible consequences for him. If he chooses the alternative, what will that mean, given what he did in the episode regarding the firing of Minister of Intelligence Heyday Moslehi, his reinstatement by the Supreme Leader, and Ahmadinejad's resistance?"

Majles deputy Ali Akbar Olia said that next week 100 deputies will ask Speaker Ali Larijani to summon Ahmadinejad to respond to several questions. He said that the questions have to do with the government not implementing certain laws, problems regarding the Ministry of Intelligence, and the manner in which subsidies on energy and food items have been eliminated.


Six more prominent political prisoners have joined the hunger strike in which a dozen people were already participating. They are Keyvan Samimi, Isa Saharkhiz, Masoud Bastani, Ali Ajami, Jafar Eghdami, and Heshmatollah Tabarzadi. The six are imprisoned in Rajaei Shahr Prison near Karaj, west of Tehran. Dr. Mohsen Aminzadeh, deputy foreign minister in the administration of former President Mohammad Khatami who has also been imprisoned, has said that he will join the strike as well. He was granted a furlough, but after participating in the memorial for journalist Reza Hoda Saber, was ordered to return to Evin Prison in Tehran.

Hassan Asadi Zeidabadi, the youngest of the original 12, has written a letter explaining the impetus for the hunger strike: "It is not in our power to ignore so much lying. We have gone on hunger strike to prove that they cannot forget the political prisoners and find a solution for the problem by eliminating the problem itself. What we say is that our offenses are neither [the standard charges of] gathering, nor disturbing the public's mind, nor spreading lies; rather, our offense of and that of our other friends is our bravery in criticizing the injustice done to the people, it is recounting the violations of human rights." Zeidabadi, a member of the Organization of University Graduates, has been sentenced to five years in prison. His wife, Atefeh Khalafi, said that when there is no other way of protesting, we can understand why the 12 have chosen such a dangerous way.

The family of Amir Khosrow Dalirsani, the political prisoner who went on hunger strike with journalist Reza Hoda Saber to protest the death of Haleh Sahabi, has written a letter to him and the other hunger strikers expressing their support. "The day you began your hunger strike, we were honored," the family said in the letter.

Meanwhile, the families of Mohammad Ebrahim Hemmat and Hamid Bakeri, two well-known Revolutionary Guard commanders who were killed during the Iran-Iraq War, have asked the 12 to end their hunger strike. Hemmat's wife Zhila Badihian, and Fatemeh Chehel-Amirani, Bakeri's wife, say in their short letter, "The day that the oppressed gains his rights is more difficult than the day the oppressor does injustice. We know that the blood of the innocent will not be wasted -- history has proven this -- so we ask you humbly to end your hunger strike."

The family of distinguished nationalist-religious journalist Dr. Ahmad Zeidabadi has expressed concern over his health. Zeidabadi has been imprisoned since immediately after the 2009 presidential elections and has never been granted a furlough. His family said that he has recently lost 22 pounds. Zeidabadi has been sentenced to six years of imprisonment, five years of internal exile, and a life-long ban on any political or journalistic activity.

As reported by Tehran Bureau, Mojtaba Zolnour, deputy to Ali Saeedi, Khamenei's representative to the Revolutionary Guards, has retired from active duty in the corps. There was speculation that Zolnour resigned to run in the Majles elections in March 2012. On Thursday, Zolnour confirmed that he indeed plans to run for a seat in the parliament.

Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Mohammad Dastgheib, the popular cleric and supporter of the Green Movement, said that the reason that senior clerics have been silent about what is going on in the country is that "they have been surrounded" and threatened. He criticized what he called "sending the national wealth to Syria to be spent on suppressing the Syrian people, rather than spending it for the people [of Iran]," and emphasized, "What the pious people want is for Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi to be freed [from house arrest]."

Judiciary chief Sadegh Larijani said, "Our policy is not to accept the United Nations special rapporteur on human rights in Iran." Larijani added that Iran with work with the U.N. on some issues related to human rights, but this will be according to what he called a "rational framework.... We are criticized because we sometimes execute narcotic traffickers. We execute them when what they do crosses certain limits, [in which case] we consider them merchants of death. Western human rights cannot be imposed on others, and we can accept human rights based on their liberal culture, because our religious political system has its own framework for human rights." Larijani's declaration that Iran will not accept the rapporteur runs contrary to Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi's declaration on Thursday that Iran had already asked the U.N. to send someone to investigate the human rights situation in the country.

The BBC reports that the European Union will impose sanctions on three Iranians who have played a role in the crackdown by the Syrian regime on its people. The three Iranian citizens, whose names were not released, have been accused of helping Syria's government and supplying it with equipment for the crackdown.

Most of the Tehran press reported on the arrest of a young woman for stealing some meat from a butchery. The woman told the police that she stole the meat to feed her two daughters and her old mother. Her husband passed away two years ago. She said that she cannot find a job, because as soon as she tells potential employers about the death of her husband, they make sexual advances on her.

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that five Russian nuclear experts killed in a plane crash on Monday had helped design Iran's nuclear facility in Bushehr. The five scientists were among 44 people killed when the Tupolev-134 plane broke up and caught fire on landing outside the city of Petrozavods. The scientist, including lead designers Sergei Rizhov, Gennadi Benyok, and Nicolai Tronov and Russia's top nuclear technological expert, Andrei Tropinov, worked at Bushehr to help finish the light-water nuclear reactor there, a project that the original contractor, the German firm Siemens, had refused to complete. Although there is no evidence of foul play in the crash, Iranian nuclear experts have been the target of assassination attempts.

Copyright © 2011 Tehran Bureau

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